Archive for July, 2010

Drive Thru Daiquiris – Seriously

Kim thought I was making this up, so I just HAD to take a picture to prove myself right. Friends

You'd Think It Was a Dairy Queen

had told me that in Louisiana you could get Daiquiris at a drive-through window. I didn’t believe it at first, but sho-nuf…. in the middle of the Bible-Belt, where in some counties you can’t buy wine or liquor on Sunday Mornings between 10:00 and Noon, you can go through a drive-through and order yourself a Bubble-Gum Daiquiri.

It’s a loop hole in the state law. You can have booze in your car as long as it’s in a sealed container. The store can sell it to you as long as the straw is not in the lid. What you do after that is up to you.

There was one on our way to the Rental Car drop off, so we just had to check it out. Steve, being the information gatherer that he is had to go inside to ask questions. We met a nice guy named Eric with a big smile. He answered all of Steve’s questions and let us try different flavors. They were all in brightly colored swirling slush machines behind him.

I chose the “House Special” which is a blend of their three most popular flavors. But of course we just had to go back to the car to buy it. We followed the three-step process that Eric explained.

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See Kim? I just love being right….These places are all over the state.

Friday in New Orleans – The Lower Ninth Ward

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After Steve and I checked out of our hotel, there were just two more stops to make on this fiftieth birthday friend fiesta, as my sister-in-law Tiffin calls it. I looked up a bit of info on-line and got some directions, so we took our rental car and headed a few blocks east across the Industrial Canal to the Ninth Ward, made famous by Hurricane Katrina. The Industrial Canal is a shipping canal connecting the huge Lake Pontchartrain to the Mississippi River. The slide show above starts with three pictures of the new wall that has been built along the canal protecting the Lower Ninth Ward from the canal. The old one collapsed under the storm surge from the hurricane, sending a wall of water, fifteen feet high surging through this already devastatingly poor neighborhood obliterating the homes and killing 200 people.

A Home Across from the Wall

A Home Across From the Wall

After the wall, you see the foundations of some of the homes that are now gone. After that you will see some of the homes that have been damaged, abandoned, or condemned. According to the Wikipedia article, some of those modern new homes are apparently a project of actor Brad Pitt. Notice the stilts and the solar panels.

This area used to be plantation and farm land, a swamp, and a cypress grove. Dredging the canal provided economic opportunities and jobs. But it made the lower ninth vulnerable to flooding, which happened during Hurricane Betsy in 1965. Reminded me of the landfill we have in San Francisco that provides more buildable land…until we have an earthquake. Consider carefully when you mess with Mother Earth.

It was a sobering tour, and I said a prayer for all the families who were so devastated.

Next Post – From the Sobering to the Not-So Sober.

Thursday in New Orleans – The Garden District

Thursday was our one full day in New Orleans. Of course we had to try out the Beignets at the famous Café Du Monde. These, by the way, are delicious. It’s probably a good thing we can’t get them here at home or I would be in trouble. This was followed by a stroll through town checking out galleries. Our favorite was Angela King Gallery . Check out the paintings by Andrew Baird. They’re huge and up close they resemble Jackson Pollock, but step back and the image appears. Very striking. Mostly, we appreciated the tour we received by Ellin Egan, Professional Fine Art Consultant, who patiently gave us an art appreciation class while we cooled off in the A/C. Have I mentioned how hot it was outside?

We also hunted down the CDs from the musicians we had heard on Wednesday night, Dwayne Burns, trumpet and vocals, and Chuck Chaplin, piano.

Next, it was find the street car (which looks like something out of a 1930s movie) and take it to the Garden District for a grueling self-guided walking tour of historic homes…. all of which were spared by Katrina. Built on High Ground they were. After being turned away by the prestigious Commanders Palace Restaurant because Steve was wearing shorts (It’s 110 degrees outside for cryin’ out loud!), we took our macabre mood to Cemetery #1. Ever wonder why all the New Orleans movies show above ground crypts for burial? The water table is so high, the bodies would float. Not good. However, some of these crypts are quite old, with numerous family members enclosed…. And they seem to be falling apart. Also not good. After that cheery visit, we headed back by street car to our hotel to escape the heat and take a nap.

By now, I’m afraid I was becoming quite cranky. I was beginning to feel the change from being with my girlfriends to being with my husband. He’s not a girlfriend. Doesn’t think like one. Doesn’t act like one. Doesn’t read my mind like one. Sigh… Did I mention how hot it was? And that all we

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had had to eat were those Beignets? And then our room had not been cleaned and the maid was still working her way to our room, which meant no nap or shower until she came and left…. Sigh…. I really don’t like myself when I get cranky. I don’t think anyone else likes me either. My dear husband, thank God, still loves me even when I’m cranky. I don’t know why he chooses to, but I’m grateful. I got to apologize, again, and he got to forgive me, again.

We went to dinner at Irene’s which was amazing. If you ever go to New Orleans, eat here. Really. Call ahead and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a reservation. It was a lovely final dinner of our vacation. I wish we could have lingered a bit longer, but we had a date with the blues. Our waiter made sure we got out on time.

Our Blues date was at a place called Snug Harbor. A gallery owner had told us this is the place to go if we really want to hear our music! It’s a bistro, a bar, and a music hall. All in three separate rooms. You pay to go into the music room to hear the music. Yes. They will bring you drinks but they’re not required.

This night it was Spencer Bohren who was playing Steel Lap Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, and Banjo. It was nice. It wasn’t rock your socks off jazz or Creole zydeco music. But it was nice slow blues from a local musician. We enjoyed the show.

We walked back to our hotel. This was our last night before flying home.

Tomorrow – it’s the Ninth Ward and Drive-Thru Daiquiris.

Wednesday in New Orleans – The French Quarter

It has been four days since my last post, and now I’m back home. Steve and I spent two days in New Orleans together. We were pretty busy seeing and doing the whole time, so there was no time to write. Then we had our travel day, and now one day at home recovering. So… here it is. The longer I wait, the more there is to write. WordPress only allows me to display one set of photos per post. So I’ll summarize and break it up into days.

On Wednesday afternoon we checked in to our hotel, took a carriage ride, walked around the French Quarter, and went to Bourbon Street to hear some Jazz. It was HOT and MUGGY. We took loads of photos.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Neither of us had been to New Orleans before, so it was fun to explore the city together. But definitely no time to write.

Next post – Thursday, our one full day in New Orleans.

Y’All Come Back Now, Y’Hear?

I’m heading out this morning with Steve to New Orleans. We’ll be there until Friday when we fly home. So we bid farewell to Sandy and Paul.

Here’s a little pictorial of some of our time together. Later, I’ll put captions.

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Are You Smarter Than A Squirrel?

Just for fun, I must tell you the story of Sandy’s squirrel. Sandy’s Squirrel lives in the trees behind her house.

Sandy and Paul have love to feed the birds, especially the beautiful family of cardinals who come and indulge in the sunflower seeds from their feeder.

However, there is a neighborhood squirrel who also likes to indulge. Paul does not like the squirrel stealing all the birds’ food, so he has taken some action to prevent Mr. Squirrel from dining.

First, he bought a squirrel guard to place on the pole holding the birdfeeders.

Next, he lowered the squirrel guard so the squirrel could not stand on it and reach the bird feeder.

Next he trimmed the branches of the trees around the stand.

After that, he moved the birdfeeder away from the trees.

Finally he cut down the tree closest to the birdfeeder.

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The entire process had provided wonderful entertainment outside the kitchen window.

Sandy

Sandy and I met probably about twenty years ago at church when I first moved to Santa Rosa. However, we didn’t really become friends until she moved in with Harrah around 1994.

Harrah had initiated a little group of seven friends for the purpose of supporting and loving each through all the changes in life that would be coming our way. We called ourselves the seven sisters. I know some people were a bit hurt by our exclusive little club, and we tried to not be so exclusive… but you can guess how well that worked. We did adopt some honorary members along the way.

We all had a relationship with Harrah though not necessarily with each other, though we all were in some way acquainted. Over the years, our little group has evolved. Everyone has moved out of town except for me, which has been a bit painful since I became pretty attached to this wonderful group of women. Hence my fiftieth birthday gift to myself. Most everyone stays in touch with one or a few of the others. Some have drifted away. Some have worked hard to stay close. Harrah is like the Mom who at least tries to stay connected. We all have little gifts we’ve given to each other. Like the Claddagh ring I wear. Everyone has one, but I think I’m the only one who still wears mine. I even wore it at my wedding to symbolize my commitment to hold my friendships close to my heart even as I took vows to my husband. We have taken turns giving each other little men… We’ve had some fun with this one! We’ve had a few reunions, though it’s been quite a while since the last one.

Sandy was Harrah’s housemate and was part of the seven sisters. This is how we started to become close. Then as one by one those we were closest too moved away, and as I got married, Sandy and I began to gravitate more and more to each other. We were involved in several projects together, a marriage workshop called One Accord, The Gap Youth Training, and finally Friends On Purpose.

She was also the girlfriend I would call to go do girl things. She was the one I’d call to help me decorate a room, or go shopping. I’m not a shopper, but Sandy is a master at it. She was a confident and dear friend.

Then… she left me too. Married Paul and ran off to Hawaii. I was her Matron of Honor and sobbed through the entire toast. Sigh…. It really is all about me! When she left, she generously gave to me many of the lovely things she had collected on her many shopping excursions. Beautiful garden pots, art work, throw blankets, etc. I have little reminders of Sandy all over my house.

Steve and I went a few years ago, on my birthday, to Oahu to visit Sandy and Paul. We spent the 4th of July and my birthday with them before heading to Kauai for vacation.

When Sandy and Paul came to Santa Rosa to visit they stayed with us. I came home from work one day, and found Sandy busy in the back yard planting lovely flowers in all the empty pots she had given me the year before. She had purchased the plants, the soil, the mulch, and the fertilizer. I jumped in to help, and she taught me all about how to plant arrange and care for flowers so that they would look fabulous for a long time. All the rest of that summer I had an amazing show garden that made me smile with joy and gratitude every time I visited it. Now, every spring I plant my flowers and think of Sandy – and wish she were here to enjoy the process with me. Everything is so much better when shared with a friend.